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THE CANTERBURY RUNS.

We think it may be conceded that the Commissioners appointed to classify the land comrpised within the runs the leases of which fall m next year, have gone about their task with a desire faithfully to carry out the intenions of the Legislature, by reserving for small pastoral holdings and for agricultural settlement sb much country as is suitable therefor, and which j it is possible to withdraw from the pastoral runs proper (that is to Bay the large pastoral holdings) without rendering them incapable of being profitably worked. No doubt the total acreage placed m Glasses 11, and III. ; (roundly a quarter of a million acres) is disappointingly small, as contrasted with the 3£ millions (thirteen times as much) placed m Class 1., bnt the Commissioners, m their final report which has just been published, explain this by stating that nearly all the agricultural land has passed ont of the hands of the Crown, and that with the exception of the land which they have set apart nnder Class 111., consisting principally of the remaining portion of the Canterbury plain, and mainly light, stony land, or a few odd pieces of inferior land left ont when the other land was selected, the whole of the remaining portion of Canterbury must be classed as pastoral land." No doubt a larger area could have been included m Class 11. (pastoral holdings of not exceeding

5000 acres), and would hava been so

included, but for the fact as pointed ' ont by the Commissioners that high mountainous country cannot be worked without sunny faces suitable for wintering stock on, and that it was necessary . m order, to enable the profitable occupation of the large runs (and therefore to secure to the State the largest possible rental), that " with high or summer land a sufficient quantity of winter country, and also, where it existed, a sufficient quantity of land suitable for lambing ewes should be included m it, otherwise the- classification Of the lower country alone into small blocks would have resulted m throwing the high or summer country into the hands of the occupants of the small blocks at any price they chose to give for it, to the serious detriment of the revenue, for nobody else could then occupy it." At the same time the Commissioners go on to say that "believing it to be the intention of the Legislature that wherever the country could poßsibly be worked profitably m blocks of 5000 acres or nnder, it should be 60 sub-divided, they have classified it accordingly wherever the nature of the country permitted, though m Borne instances they think some of the blocks can only be profitably worked m connection with freehold homesteads m the neighborhood." As regards the land classified as pastoral- agricultural, nnder Class IIL, that is to say land of which part is arable, the Commissioners obviously had to fix some standard of proportion, the Legislature having failed to do this, and their determination that "m the front country one-tenth of the whole block must be suitable for ploughing or cropping purposes before they could place it m this class " was a reasonable one. The Commissioners further explain the smallness of the area which is to be found m Class 111,, by stating that m going over the country they found " that the purchased land extended far higher np the ranges than is commonly believed," and they add that this land " being m most cases nnfenced, it has donbtless led many persons to think that the low-lying country seen from the public roads is still Crown land, which could be subdivided," whereas this is not

the case. Of the lands placed m Class I (the runs proper) they say : — " We find that there are about 2,443,840 acres held nnder a great many licenses, bnt practically owned and worked as but sixty-six separate runs or holdings, a large number being held by loan or other financial companies, the original holders having, through the indebtedness caused by their having to purchase so much freehold, or by the bad seasons, or the depression of the last five years, had to relinquish their runs. Of these 2,443,840 acreß we have classified 2,282,320 acres nnder Class I. into sixty-eight holdings, which m our opinion cannot be worked with profit m blocks of less than 5000 acres ; and we have put 154,540 acres under Class 11. into fifty holdings, which we think can be worked with profit m blocks of 5000 acres and under, thus dividing the present sixty-six holdings into 118 separate runs under two classes. The aggregate area of the pastoral country is increased by a large quantity of the tops of the high hills, generally shingle or rock, but which we were obliged to

include within the runs, m order to ob-

tain natural boundaries, and not to leave vacant pieces of country whioh would be no man's land. Generally speaking, we have divided the country so that runs under Class L may carry from 10,000 to 15,0Q0 sheep m the back country, gnd a smaller number m the front ; m pnly pne cape, that of Mr Sutton's sJ»tion on the Waitaki, noted m our first report, have we allowed any run to be large enough to carry more than 20.000 sheep.'' In the exception here referred to the Commissioners have advised the Waste Lands Board to obtain the sanction of the Minister to increase the carrying capacity to 24,500 sheep. On the whole, knowing what we do of the personnel of the Commission, we a^e • satisfied that they have honestly I <Jone v their' best to carry out t{ie' wishes < of the Legislature,' and that tjiey have gone about it thoroughly is shown by the fact that they were travelling 74 days, during which they went 1128 miles by rail, drove 264 miles, and rode 1520 miles, to enable them to see every part of the oountr. -*~£ ey - had tQ classify, and if the result be somewhat disappointing, it is rather m the ascertainment that we Jjave lejs land m Canterbury suitable for settlement than Ye' had "hoped, rather than that the pommissioners Jiave failed to set a sufficient area aside for that purpose. Jt must now we fear then be accepted ac # fact, that'the 250^000 acres or so m Classes 11. and 111. is all that remains for this purpose m the hands of the Crown. We except of course the area withdrawn from sale for the purpose of satisfying the cloirns of the Midland Railway Company, became we have the very rest of all possible information to the effect that the Company will require every acre of land suitable for settlemerit within area and possibly riiore elsewhere. ' That of course does not' mean that the land will be withdrawn, from MttiemenJ;, oa the contrary

! the interest of the Company will be to | get it settled as quickly as possible, bnt | I the outcome of the Commission is un- 1 doubtedly to show that the total area j available for settlement within Canterbury, over which the public through the Legislature and the Government has control, is about a quarter of a million acres.

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THE CANTERBURY RUNS. Ashburton Guardian, Volume VII, Issue 2113, 18 April 1889

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